Eman Ahmed hasn’t stepped out of her house in 25 years. The Egyptian woman is barely 36 years old.
Weighing 500 kg, Eman has the unfortunate distinction of being one of the world’s heaviest women. Her story has made it to the headlines in recent days, as she landed in India for treatment that will knock off her kilos and enable her to lead a regular life again.
The Save Eman campaign is an initiative by Mumbai’s Saifee Hospital lead by bariatric surgeon Dr Mufazzal Lakdawala.
Dr Muffazal heads the Institute of Minimal Invasive Surgical Sciences and Research Centre at Saifee Hospital, where Eman has been admitted. He has been in the public eye for over a week now, as his patient made her way past bureaucratic and logistical obstacles to land in Mumbai on February 11.
Dr Muffazal was approached by Shaimaa Ahmed, Eman’s sister, who had been seeking medical help across the world. He took up the case pro bono, and went to visit her in January for preliminary assessments.
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Saifee hospital stepped in to assist with a special facility meant exclusively for Eman. Huzaifa Shehabi, the hospital’s chief operating officer, said, “The immense trust, confidence and hope that Eman and her family have reposed in the hospital is a matter of pride not only for the hospital but for the entire medical fraternity in India.”
The facility for Eman spreads over 1,000 sq. ft. and includes an attendant’s room, a scrub room, and toilets. The patient’s cabin has also been furnished with bariatric equipment as well as special aids, keeping in mind Eman’s excessive weight.
A team of 15 doctors and medical professionals have come together to treat Eman on pro bono basis.
Among the team, Doctors Kamlesh Bohra, Abizer Mankad and Aparna Bhasker were part of the contingent that brought Eman to India.
Bringing the patient to India required special attention, including a special bed which was used to transport her throughout her journey. Special evacuation measures had to be undertaken — a crane was used to lift the bedridden Eman out of her house. She flew to India, with her family, on an Egypt Air cargo flight specially loaded with medical equipment.
Obesity is not Eman’s only affliction — in fact, it has led to more concerns. She also suffers from lymphedema and water retention, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, hypothyroidism, has severe obstructive and restrictive lung disease, gout and is at a very high risk of pulmonary embolism. An accident early in life also left her paralysed in her right arm and leg, and she is unable to speak.
The treatment constitutes a step-by-step process that includes dietary control, physiotherapy and a variety of treatments targeted at each of her ailments. “(Eman) suffers from several medical complications due to her weight and continued immobility over the years, making her case very complex and high risk,” says Dr Muffazal. “Bringing a semblance of normalcy to Eman’s life may take a few years.”
A crowdfunding campaign is ongoing, to help Eman’s family meet the astronomical costs of the procedures.
While the doctors and hospitals have largely taken up the case at complimentary rates, Eman’s family has been unable to meet the cost of her special transportation, accommodation in India, medication and incidental expenses.
Dr Muffazal, who even approached Sushma Swaraj to facilitate Eman’s travel to India, has been invested in the campaign as well. The hospital has acknowledged that it has been receiving best wishes and congratulatory notes from all over Egypt.
Eman’s recovery is hardly likely to be an overnight affair. Yet the team of specialists are determined to change her life for the better. For a woman who hasn’t seen the sun in decades, that’s nothing short of a miracle.
Contribute to the Save Eman campaign here.